The weekly X-Files reviews didn’t start until season
eight, so I’m going to try and review the first seven seasons over
the course of the summer. Any changes to the TV review
template are still “in committee,” so this uses the familiar format.

Cast and Crew

David
Duchovny

as Fox Mulder.

Gillian
Anderson
as Dana Scully.

The series creator was Chris
Carter
.
Complete cast and crew info can be found at this IMDB
page
.

Original Airdate

This season originally ran from 1993-1994.

In Retrospect

This was the first season of The X-Files, and it was
very
different than the rest. I only watched one of these episodes in
its original run (“Genderbender”), and I didn’t see anything that
indicated the series would become what it did.

Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of this season was the
fact
that Scully had a social life. She had dates, she attended her
godson’s birthday party, and she refused to disclose who caught
the
bouquet at a friend’s wedding. She was a regular person with a
job to
do, while Mulder was always the devotee to the work.

Mulder went through changes as well. In the early episodes, he
had a
perpetual smile on his face, and a certain energy that he could
barely
contain (particularly in the pilot episode.) As the season wore on,
he developed into the contained, sarcastic Mulder that we know
best.

The peripheral characters also grew. Section Chief Blevins was
prominent at first, but he soon disappeared for several season.
The
Cigarette Smoking Man is present, but had only one line (in
“Tooms”).
Deep Throat’s entire living run on the series was presented here,
as
the first of Mulder’s informants, who gave Mulder the truth about
the
little cases so that he could lie more convincingly on the
important
ones. The Lone Gunmen see their first appearance in what was
meant to
be a one-shot joke appearance. There is no sign of Krycek,
although
Nick Lea can be seen playing a different character.

Things were forming behind the camera as well. Much of this
season
was shot in daylight conditions. The monster-of-the-week cases
were
solved using old-fashioned police work, like dusting for
fingerprints,
that was often forgotten in the later seasons. The conspiracy
elements introduced in the pilot episode wouldn’t be seen again
until
the end of season seven, and even then, the tone of the episode
would
be very different. It was “E.B.E.” that really formed the
foundation
of what the conspiracy would be, with lies and truths intermingled
in
an elaborate wild goose chase meant to distract the agents from
discovering something significant. “The Erlenmeyer Flask” also
stepped up the story a notch, introducing the alien/human hybrids,
and
showing that few people are safe from death in this world. The
combined efforts of Chris Carter, Glen Morgan and James Wong
started
to assemble the show that would be, but it’s still very embryonic
at
this point.

Ten years later, some of this material seems a bit dated. Much
of it
shows special effects that aspired beyond the show’s budget
and/or
schedule. It’s still good television, but the all-encompassing story
arc structures that have become so common and loved in sci-fi
aren’t
in place at this time, which seems to pinpoint its age.

High Point

“E.B.E.” This was the episode that set up the show the series
would
become.

Low Point

“Ghost in the Machine” This had a weak story riddled with
flat-out
wrong computer science. (I don’t care how advanced the C.O.S.
was; it
couldn’t speak if it didn’t have the hardware, and it couldn’t make
Scully’s computer turn on and then connect via
modem.)

The Review

The originality of the series was great in its day. I
can’t
think of another show, before or since, that had so many stories
that
were intentionally left without a sense of closure. It’s also nice to
see two heterosexual leads of two genders that don’t have a
relationship based on sexual tension. Some of the devices in the
plots, though, are pretty standard. Two of them (Eugene Tooms,
and
vengeful ghosts) were even reused before the season was over.
I give
it 4 out of 6.

The effects were great in some episode, and pretty
poor in
others. “Darkness Falls” and “Space” in particular had some
really
shoddy effects work. By the time they got to “The Erlenmeyer
Flask,”
most of the kinks were worked out, and they knew when to use
physical
effects instead of the low-grade CGI they could afford. I give it 4
out of 6.

The stories that were told defy a lot of the rules when
it
comes to the endings. Half a dozen of these episodes have a
significant lack of closure, with the monsters escaping
persecution,
and able to act again. The long-term story just begins in this
season; it’s mainly monster-of-the-week episodes, loaded with
exposition from Mulder about something he read in an old X-file,
but
chose not to share with his trusted partner until after they’d spent
hours flying to the crime scene. I give it 4 out of 6.

The acting improves over the course of the season,
particularly in the guest cast. Sarah Koskoff’s work in the pilot
episode is some of the worst I’ve seen, but Brad Dourif’s work in
“Beyond the Sea” and Zeljko Ivanek’s work in “Roland” are both
simply
incredible. The main cast also improved after the first few
episodes,
as they found a comfortable space to act in. I give the acting 4
out
of 6.

The emotional response these episodes produced
for me has
always been somewhat weak, probably because I didn’t see
most of them
until the show was in its fifth season and these episodes ran in
syndicated reruns. A select few, such as “Beyond The Sea,” still
work
for me now, but none of them really have the impact as a new
episode
could have, when the future was uncertain. I give it 2 out of 6.

The production reached a comfortable high sooner
than the
acting and writing did. The lighting, particularly in the dark
scenes, as well as the cinematography and editing, pulled
themselves
together early. Mark Snow’s score was still experimental,
developing
the cues that would become melodic staples of the show. I give
it 5
out of 6.

Overall, the first season shows the potential for what
the
show would become, but it wasn’t there yet. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, The X-Files: Season One receives 27 out of
42.